Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day 20 Saint James, MO to Cape Girardeau, MO 152.6 miles

I was on the road by 6am to escape the crazy motel room with the living TV. After that experience I used my USACycling license benefits to get 10% off a hotel reservation at the Hampton Inn in Cape Girardeau. I was committed to getting there by then end of the day.
My bike did not dry off from the prior day, it was extremely humid. I greeted a beautiful morning and rode for hours through the calm country. I would occasionally get a jolt of reality when a dog would chase me. I learned shepherds were the fastest dogs and I would have to get over 25 mph to outrun them. Pitbulls, while particularly aggressive looking, would receive my taunting because they could barely run 15 mph. I had at first lodged my bike pump through the front of my bibs in case I was caught on a hill but later found I could just put the pump under the bungee cords for a quick samurai slap across the ridge of the dog’s nose. I would prefer to outrun the dog though since I would likely have to outrun an angry dog owner in a truck if they saw a man in tights knock his dog out with a stick. My approach to dogs is to make sure I don’t allow them to flank my front wheel so even if I end up turning in the other direction the dog won’t get across my front wheel.
There hasn’t been any wind in the past couple days, and it would be the same today. Temperatures would be just as extreme as the other days… I would be dependent on my own devices without the help of a tailwind and I would have to fight the heat yet again, hopefully there would be no mechanical failures today.
The trip proved to be a fast one, US-67 had a wide open shoulder on great asphalt and MO-72 is getting a facelift with fresh asphalt. While extremely hot, my overall average today was 16.5 mph. MO-72 would have been a treacherous route, the unmaintained pocked bridges between the fresh asphalt hinted at how my ride would have been.
I stopped at a gas station in Farmington where a cub scout group was offering car washes. Some street bikers were surprised to see me there, saying they had passed me back at Park Hills about 10 miles away. I had cruised through at about 23 mph on US-67 so I had made good time to the MO-72 turnoff. A scout had stopped to ask me about my bike and what I was doing. I explained I had nearly 3,000 miles behind me from Seattle and I was headed home to Charlotte. It took a moment to process in the child’s head and he began scratching it to speed up the process. After a bit more time he summarized his confusion to, “Do you have a car?” I said yes, in fact I have two. This perplexed him more, he wanted to discuss the mode of transportation more but his mother called from around the building to attend to his carwashing duties.
I think part of the difficulty of cycling as a sport and transportation in the US is adults see transportation as an evolution. First, you learn to walk, then you learn to ride a bicycle, and then you learn to drive. You don’t go backwards in this evolution. Once you have achieved driving Shangri-La, you must park as close as possible to any door you wish to pass such as the Walmart parking lot. The requirement for close parking proximity means you will have to wait a few minutes for someone to pack their car and leave. Anything to prevent you from additional primitive walking from a further parking space. Some brazen transportationists think fire lanes and handicap parking also help minimize the walking one would have to do. I applaud their ingenuity, may their blood pressure always be the highest in the land.
I skipped lunch today, and I think I will continue to do so since my knees feel better just trudging through the day with minimal breaks. At 40 miles left in the day I felt alive, the Mississippi River was one of the few mental barriers left to cross before I would be home. As I was riding I started to notice the large swaths of trees knocked over, at first I thought it was logging but a lot of the trees were snapped halfway up the trunk. I figured a tornado had carved out some destruction along the road. It went for miles, and I saw some unfortunate birdhouses that were twisted up in the wake of the tornado too.
I was also a couple hours ahead of schedule because of making a good average for the day. I arrived at Cyclewerx at 4:30, and was delighted to see such a good group of people working in a relaxed shop. They trued the wheel and fixed me up with some supplies. I decided to buy a floor pump since I was tired of fighting for 90 psi. I felt the extra weight would be worth getting 110 psi every day. The shop owner went the extra mile and searched in his inventory to try to find a smaller pump. He also offered a smaller portion of chamois butt’r when he didn’t have the singles. He also pulled up a map and suggested I take a different route which would take me on a ferry ride across the Mississippi. Perhaps another time. I talked with one of the employees about the racing scene in Missouri as well as the state tour. There seems to be an active cycling community in the state and I think the community as a whole is very gracious to folks pedaling on the road. They have a good thing going! Thanks to the Cyclewerx shop – visit them if you’re in town.
I was at the hotel by 6 and was reluctant to go to the Outback, it was the only thing nearby. There's nothing wrong with the food, I just don't agree with the concept. Heath at the Hampton was helpful and told me to go to the Drury Inn next door for laundry. I found a sullen female sitting on a luggage cart guarding the laundry door at the Drury. She introduced herself by saying she was handicapped. I offered my help if I could. She said she was fine. I tried to see if the washer was full but couldn’t get around her, she said it was taken. I said I would wait until she was finished with her laundry as I pulled out my laptop and commenced to work on the floor. She said she was going to be a while, I replied all I had was time and didn’t have a lot of choice in the laundry matter. After 10 minutes she mumbled something, stood up, walked into the laundry room and pulled out her clothes in the washer and put them in the dryer. She walked out of the room and as she passed she said the washer was open. I never saw her again. I stepped over the luggage cart and got started on the laundry. I thought it a little strange.
Calories today weren’t much as compared to other days. 2.5 gallons of Gatorade, a clif bar, 2 packs of M&Ms (my rolling lunch it seems), a 9oz tenderloin steak with scallops, crab stuffed shrimp app, stuffed potato, 2 loaves of bread, salad, and key lime pie.
Tomorrow I plan to head deep into Tennessee through Illinois and Kentucky. Not sure which town yet but probably Clarksville at 160 miles.

No comments:

Post a Comment